Ethoxyquin — Controversial Dog Food Additive


Ethoxyquin is a fat preservative sometimes used in dog food that has garnered a controversial reputation.
Woman Thinking About Ethoxyquin in Dog Food

It appears much of the fear of ethoxyquin in pet food may be related to its use as a pesticide and in making rubber.

Yet today, most food safety experts agree that when used properly, the synthetic additive is not toxic.

For this reason, and after repeated investigation, the United States Food and Drug Administration has ruled the additive “may be safely used in animal feeds” when used according to regulations.

Significance of Liver Issues
Remains ‘Unknown’

In one study conducted by the manufacturer of ethoxyquin and reported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the effects of the chemical appear to be dose-dependent and include1:

  • Accumulation of hemoglobin pigment in the liver
  • Elevated liver enzymes in the blood

That same FDA document concludes1:

“Although these changes are due to ethoxyquin in the diet, the pigment is not made from ethoxyquin itself, and the health significance of these findings is unknown.”

How Ethoxyquin Can ‘Sneak”
Its Way into Dog Food

Although ethoxyquin can be directly added to a dog food at the time of manufacture, this is only rarely the case.

That’s because it can also be added indirectly to any recipe as a consequence of using certain poultry or fish meals3 that already contain the chemical at the time they are procured.

And so even though it may not be listed on the label it can still be present in virtually any dog food.

The Bottom Line

For healthy pets, a trace amount of ethoxyquin is probably safe.

However, unlike most humans who tend to vary their diets with nearly every meal, dogs typically eat the same food repeatedly.

So, any potentially toxic substance present in a food — even if only in trace amounts — and fed every meal, every day, year after year — is a different matter.

It’s that cumulative exposure that tends to keep us up at night.

The effect of consuming any synthetic preservative like ethoxyquin relentlessly can be worrisome — even if it’s only remotely suspected of causing health issues.

And especially when there are natural preservatives available to replace it.

Notes and Updates

  • Kën Shrëk

    it is

  • theBCnut

    Please consider donating it to a local shelter. Dogs are often fed even worse in shelters so they really could benefit from it.

  • Antoinette le Roux

    Thank you so much for your article! I just got a bag of Hills for free from a vet. Guess where it’s going… definitely not into my puppy’s feeding bowl but straight to the garbage! A friend of mine lost a beautiful German Shepherd bitch because of liver damage due to Ethoxyquin in a brand called Olympic. Never new that a distinguished brand such as Hills also contains the rubbish!

  • DLT88

    Don’t believe anything our gov agencies claim is safe. I fed Science Diet kibble to many cats 20 years ago and did not know about the Ethoxyquin in Science Diet. 9 out of 10 (I was caring for a neutered feral colony) cats fed that food got cancer — lymphomas and mostly intestinal lymphoma and suffered horrendously!! Don’t believe any place that claims that Ethoxyquin is safe — it’s a d*mn carcinogen. Don’t buy Hills. They still defend their killer foods.

  • Careful Peter… your replying to a 3 year old post…They will pick your brain for this!!
    I give up..Why on earth would anyone believe kibble is good for dogs? Because they love it?

    Not forgetting they were living to a right old age of 15-20 years, and more

  • Peter Souza

    artificial perservatives will most certainly give your dogs cancer. We feed our 12 German Shepherds and puppies raw diet ; no salmonella or e coli in 40 years . Dogs are not humans. Dogs are carnivores. Why on earth would anyone believe kibble is good for dogs? It is human convenience and big Profits for a multi billion dollar industry that will tell you whatever you want to hear to sell their products. Before the KIBBLE industry, dogs were NOT getting cancer.

  • Karen Mitchell

    I’m not a vet, however I have been researching pet nutrition for the past 5-6 years. Every day I’m reading or hearing some alarming findings on commercial foods for pets.
    This doesn’t surprise me. Researching other ingredients in commercial pet food is just as bad. It’s no wonder people feeding their pet on this food are visiting their vets more than they should be!!
    Your pet needs to be on an all natural raw diet.
    Want to know more about dog and cat nutrition? Hints and tips on a Natural RAW diet?
    Do you know what you should be feeding your puppy, how much to eat, and when to feed?
    How can your pet benefit from an ALL NATURAL RAW DIET?
    I have a group on Facebook, we are a bunch of people like you and also some great professionals who want to share our knowledge to help because we believe they should have the best care possible, AND, it doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg..You would be surprised!
    Even if your wondering how to start your dog or cat on an all natural raw nutritional diet, or your not sure about some things, like what’s safe and how much to give them… That and more!
    Follow this link to join my Facebook group.. and get a friend to tag along too….

  • Rich Johnson

    Water is used as a fire-suppression agent, but I still boil noodles in it. Salt is used to de-ice roads.
    And neither is Purified for human grade consumption.

    What you use is.

  • Peter Andreassen

    This Stuff is also in Salmon from Norway, so take care

  • Christine

    I am now thinking that my Setter’s seizures are triggered by ethoxyquin. She has had NO fish products, not even glucosamine and has not had a seizure in 8 months. I used to feed all of the Natura foods. I could rotate depending on the season (agility season). Then Natura was sold & started having recalls. I switched to Taste of the wild and in “hind sight” seizures started around that time. Put her on TOTW lamb (NO FISH AT ALL IN THIS ) seizures stopped. Switched to Wellness Oatmeal & Lamb (also have a dog w/ skin issues… ugh) I need to get out of the Diamond factory!! I am going to try Fromm the dietician said their fish is NOT PRESERVED WITH ETHOXYQUIN. BTW Natura’s fish is ethoxyquin free too but to many recalls. LOVE THIS SITE, VERY INFORMATIVE

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  • If its so safe, why don’t we add it to our perreroni and hanburgers?
    “Hey Kids! Eat some of these! Don’t worry! It’s preserved with ETHOXYQUIN!”

  • MadMaxx63

    I think a narrow minded person would read Sagmans scare article and believe his opinion is better than fact…of which he states “may” this and “could” that.

  • MadMaxx63

    Only an idiot would compare one chemical to a “closely relate chemical”…that tells me the author knows nothing about chemistry which would make me tend to disbelieve anything written in the article. I also love the ignorance about how. Bad a company Monsanto is…wake up and read factual articles instead of small time Internet tabloid “papers”!

  • Will Wiegman
  • Dawn Anewday
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  • HOP4ME

    If it’s made by Monsanto, it’s probably not very good for you or your dog.

  • Shawna

    No I agree, I didn’t see Jerry’s statement that way either.. Had I, I doubt bringing up it not being his “only” argument would have been pointless.

    I get bee’s in my bonnet too 🙂 Mainly about grains..

    What did you find regarding Kirkland?

  • Pattyvaughn

    Then obviously Mike’s article about ethoxyquin wasn’t a chain. I guess I have a bee about metaphors.

  • Anne V Williams

    I didn’t read Jerry’s comment that way. I saw it as written by someone who has a bee in his bonnet about that type of argument (as I do).
    I can see how you might see it the way you did. It didn’t even come close to invalidating the entire article. I researched my Kirkland dog food as soon as I finished the article.

  • Shawna

    Yeah, I do see your point but I think only the narrow minded would use that one statement to invalidate the entire article.

  • Anne V Williams

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
    Mike weakened his argument with this statement, though it was clearly a side issue..

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  • Shawna

    Maybe that’s why “X is also used as Y” wasn’t Mikes only argument against ethoxyquin. 🙂

  • “Ethoxyquin is not only used as a preservative in dog foods but… are you ready for this… it’s also used as a pesticide… and as a hardening agent in the manufacture of rubber.”

    “X is also used as Y” is a stupid argument that pops up way too much in scare articles. I’m not saying Ethoxyquin is good, but that argument is no way to prove it.

    Some other things that are used as pesticides and herbicides: cloves, garlic, onions, corn meal, citric acid.

    Water is used as a fire-suppression agent, but I still boil noodles in it. Salt is used to de-ice roads. I use vinegar to disinfect my countertops. Carrots, beets and red cabbage are used to make hair dyes. Etc., etc., etc.

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  • truth4u

    WOW, such mis-information out there.  Yes, if your pet lives to be 90+ human years old or if it ingests large doses of ethoxyquin (well above the doses in pet food) then ethoxyquin could harm them however, it is much safer than the salmonella and e coli latent dog food that kills and sickens countless animals each year.  It is also much safer and substantially more effective than the few alternatives currently available.

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  • That is a great idea about the sardines, my dogs love fish and I too bake chicken and fish for them over a little solid good Holistic blendz and add puree of carrots, green apple and cabbage over the food 2xs a day and they love it but now I am obsessed with finding a non-GMO dog food. any ideas?

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  • Copasabe

    I too discovered that old el paso uses ethoxyquin ! Have known for years about it’s harmful effects for dogs, but never thought we would see it on the shelves of our supermarket.

  • Emackinnon

    Here is what Solid Gold told me about their relationship with Ethoxyquin: 
    All of our formulations specify Ethoxyquin free ingredients.

    do not add Ethoxyquin to our diets nor is the fish meal used in our
    formulations preserved with Ethoxyquin; the fish meal used in our diets
    are preserved with
    the natural preservative Naturox and additional Naturox is added to our
    formulations during production.

    receive a sample of every production run that the manufacturing mill
    produces, each of these samples is then sent out for Ethoxyquin testing;
    the test results
    we have received show no presence of Ethoxyquin.

    Solid Gold Health Products for Pets, Inc.

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  • sam

    Whoops–sorry for post number 3 but I forgot to mention the recall includes 13 different formulas of Natural Balance dog foods, not just the vegetarian one.

  • sam

    Right after posting my previous comment in response to Carolyn L., I ran across a recall alert on the Dick Van Patten’s Vegetarian kibble that I feed my dog. Fortunately in my case, the state I live in is not affected but for anyone else that feeds this food to their dogs, here’s the info.

  • sam

    I avoid all dog foods that contain fish meal just to be on the safe side, and instead frequently buy salt-free, water-packed sardines, or salt free canned salmon (or poach an extra piece of salmon for him when I’m preparing it for dinner) at Trader Joe’s. I normally cook chicken or beef and mix it with Dick Van Patten’s Vegan kibble, but sometimes for a change my dog likes the sardines or salmon.

  • Carolyn L.

    I am trying to cut out fish meal as a prominent ingredient in our dogs kibble. Though I know the benefits of fish in the diet I want to go another route, and am considering sardines or herring. Not sure which is better for dogs. I have not had sardines for several decades 🙂 Can anybody steer me to a quality brand.     thanks, Carolyn 

  • Kee Song

    thought I would share this response from Taste of the Wild that I received today.  Been reading up on Ethoxyquin and I am concerned for my dogs’ long-term health.The Ethoxyquin statement is not on the website, but I need to assume Customer Service for TOTW is informed and trained by the company to provide truthful representation of the company’s product …

    —–Original Message—–
    From: TOW Customer Service [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2012 9:29 AM
    Subject: FW: * Taste of the Wild Info Request: Product Concern


    Thank you for your inquiry of ethoxyquin. 

    Our pet food company sources all protein meals (chicken
    meal, fish meal, etc) from vendors that do not use ethoxyquin.  As always, only natural preservatives are used in our manufacturing process to preserve
    the foods.

    Customer Service

    —–Original Message—–
    From: [email protected]
    [mailto:[email protected]]

    Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 10:09 PM

    To: Diamond Pet Foods Veterinarian Info

    Subject: * Taste of the Wild Info Request: Product Concern

    The following response was submitted on Tuesday, April 3 at 10:08 pm

    From: Taste of the Wild (

    I would prefer to be contacted by: E-mail

    State: Washington
    Zip Code:
    Country: United States

    My Question is Regarding: Product Concern

    Product(s) I currently feed my pet: Wellness Core Ocean

    I am very concern about the health of my German Shepherds and I am looking for Ethoxiquin-free dog food. I cannot find any statement on the TOTW website regarding Ethoxiquin.

    Can you tell me if TOTW “Pacific Stream …” contains Ethoxiquin?

    Does TOTW contractually require Ethoxiquin-free content
    in its ingredient supply chain?

    Thank you.


  • Hi Natalie,

    Here’s the response I got today from Wellness regarding their fish meal ingredients:

    “All of our co-manufacturing partners use raw ingredients based on WellPet specifications. Here at WellPet, we specify that all of the raw ingredients for our products are not preserved with Ethoxyquin. Likewise, our frozen or fresh ground fish does not need to be treated or preserved with Ethoxyquin. We also monitor and check our products regularly as part of our quality control regardless of the manufacturer.”

    So, it looks like the fish meal used in Wellness dog foods is ethoxyquin free.

    Hope this helps.

  • Hi Natalie,

    Unfortunately, I’m unable to locate an email or other reliable source confirming Wellness’ fish meals are ethoxyquin free.

    So, I’ve written to the company again. I’ll post their reply as soon as I get it.

  • Natalie

    Hey Mike,
    I’ve just started reading up on dog foods as much as possible for my 3 year old border collie mix, Max.  I keep hearing about how harmful ethoxyquin is and saw that you posted the above comment about Wellness being responsive for you. That is what I am currently feeding my dog and I was wondering what Wellness told you. Do they (or their suppliers) use ethoxyquin? My email is [email protected] and I would love any helpful info you would be willing to share.
    Thank you much,

  • guest

    I think that was taken out of context, the site actually states:

    Q: ETHOXYQUIN – Does ORIJEN contain Ethoxyquin?
    A |
    Champion’s ingredients and foods are never preserved with Ethoxyquin or any other chemical preservative.
    Ethoxyquin is typically used as a preservative in fish
    ingredients, and is commonly found in fish ingredients produced within
    the United States. Champion uses two kinds of fish ingredients in –
    fresh fish, and fish meals.
    FRESH FISH. Our fresh fish is caught wild
    within our region and arrives FRESH – which is defined as ‘never frozen
    and with no preservatives’. Our fresh fish never contain Ethoxyquin.
    FISH MEALS. Ethoxyquin preservatives are common throughout the fish meal supply chain, so Champion works directly
    with our fish meal suppliers (no brokers or middlemen) and we pay them a
    premium to have our fish meals preserved with our proprietary blend of
    Vitamin E and botanical extracts. Our fish meals are never preserved
    with Ethoxyquin.
    Champion’s Ethoxyquin standard is set at true trace level,
    not to exceed 5 ppm (parts per million) of Ethoxyquin, which is
    0.0005%, or one half of one thousandth of 1% – the lower limit of what
    most certified laboratories are able to detect or measure.

  • jw2449

    I was concerned about ethoxyquin in the food I feed my dog.  He is a Boston Terrier and eats Synergy by Natural Balance.  I did not see this ingredient listed on the bag, but I called the company to make sure.  They told me that they do not add or use it on any of their foods.  The vet tech on the phone was very nice and answered all my questions.

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  • guest

    I see ethoxyquin is in Old El Paso Taco seasoning. just gross.

  • Hi Guest500001,

    I’m personally unaware of any official assurances regarding the ethoxyquin content of named versus anonymous fish meals.

    It’s my understanding that all fish meals can potentially contain ethoxyquin (a requirement of the US Coast Guard to prevent explosions during transport).

    If you find an official government document that excludes named fish meals from this rule, please post it here.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Guest50001

    I don’t know if this was mentioned, but don’t forget there is a difference between fish meals and named fish meals (salmon meal, herring meal,etc…). Named fish meals are safe for dogs, just not unnamed.

  • Toxed2loss

    From a toxicity stand point, every thing Dr. Becker stated in her article is true. Having researched many ingr. myself, I know that many manufacturer’s are often unaware of what’s in an ingredient supplied to them. So, if you are getting something different from the manufacturer, I suggest you ask them for their suppliers name and the ask them your questions. A manufacturer, in actuality, has limited control over their product. They have the most control while it is in the plant,and being processed. What happens to the ingredients before they reach the plant and what happens to the product after it leaves the pant, are not under their direct control.

    They can tell you that they don’t add any toxic preservatives. But, the question remains, do they have a guarantee that their suppliers don’t? Many manufacturer’s have those kind of guarantees. If you have a product that you and your pet love. Do a little digging…

    Does that make sense?

  • Rainwater430

    I don’t understand this article from Mercola.  It goes against what the manufacturers of the high quality foods claim.  Thoughts anyone?

  • Marie

    Vicki, that is so sad! 🙁 I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

  • Vicki
    I’m sorry you lost your Maltese, to cancer. I’ve lost a number of dogs to cancer over the years and never put it together until I became toxically injured. I understand your sorrow and grief. 🙁

  • vicky mathews

    I had the best, sweetest, smartest little Maltese for 6 years, 7 months, and 3 days. He passed away last week because of intestinal cancer. All he has ever eaten is Science Diet Dog Food. I am so sorry I bought this food for him. I thought I was buying a good quality dog food for him. I have read horrible reports lately about Science Diet Dog Food. About their ingredients, moths in the bags, etc. I have other dogs and I will never feed them Science Diet Dog Food ever again. I hate that I fed Science Diet Dog Food to my special little Maltese. He should have had a much longer life. Our household is very sad.

  • Hi Denny… The further down the ingredient list you find the fish meal, the less ethoxyquin would be present. However, once again, I believe this food is still ethoxyquin free. It’s worth a call to the company to find out. Wellness has been very responsive to my questions in the past. Hope this helps.

  • Denny Lawrence

    THANX for the response. Frankly, that’s what I feared; no other answer appears to hold up to serious scrutiny.

    If this is in fact the case, to how much ethoxyquin might I be exposing my pups ? Is it worth the risk ?

  • Hi Denny… The company has previously advised me this product is ethoxyquin free. However, the fact a product is naturally preserved could simply mean the manufacturer has not added any synthetic preservatives (like ethoxyquin). Unfortunately, the real concern about ethoxyquin is what’s added to the fish before the fish meal is actually purchased by the manufacturer.

    It’s likely this food is still ethoxyquin free. However, you’ll need to check with Wellpet Customer Service to confirm. Wish I could be more help.

  • Gordon

    No Michelle, my opinion’s worth has gone down in value by 0.214445 cents. It fluctuates.

  • Michelle

    Gordon, isn’t you opinion worth 2 cents? lol

  • Gordon

    I meant, just my 1.785555 CENTS worth opinion or speculation.

  • Gordon

    Denny Lawrence – Could be because they know that the fish they source may have been treated with ethoxyquin before they acquire it. And so they can’t or won’t unequivocally claim that the product is ethoxyquin free. So because they will use a natural alternative preservative and given the aforementioned possibility, is why they probably have decided to state, “This is a naturally preserved product.”.

    Just my 1.785555% worth opinion or speculation.

  • Denny Lawrence

    I rotate feed my tribe; one of the dry foods I routinely use is the Core Ocean Formula. Until recently, their bag stated
    “ethoxyquin free.” This statement has been replaced with “This is a naturally preserved product.” I find this new statement weaker, somewhat ambiguous, and less than reassuring. Approximately a month ago, I e-mailed them and asked why they changed this statement. They have chosen to not respond. Can you shed some light on this?
    I would like to feel as comfortable with this product as I once did.

  • Hi James… Fromm and some of the Costco products are both good brands. Unfortunately, due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, I cannot provide customized product comparisons for each reader. For more help, please check out my reviews and visit our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Help Me Choose a Dog Food”. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers. Wish I could be more help.

  • Gordon

    James Dabney – What was your pup on before Science Diet? Because going from a good dog food to a crap one like Science Diet will usually cause more stools as well as poor loose ones. Also, did you transition over a period of at least 7 days? Slow transitions are necessary to accustom the dog’s digestive system.

  • James Dabney

    I have a 12 week old Aussiedoodle that switched to Science Diet (recommendation of the Vet) and has been experiencing extremely loose stools since and cannot go the entire night without potty visits which he did not need prior to switching to Science Diet.
    I am considering a food manufactured by Fromm and also considering dog food from Costco which obviously is a lot cheaper. Is the Costco brand a good quality food or should I go to the more expensive Fromm brand?
    Jim Dabney

  • Hi Max… The Dog Food Advisor is an independent website that reviews and rates dog food. I do not make or sell pet foods. Please contact the manufacturer for this information. Wish I could be more help.

  • Max Moller

    Dear Sirs, I bought a 5 lb. pack of TOTW Pacific Stream (Salmon,etc.). The expiry date is February 2012.
    Considering all the valuable explanations you give about ETHOXYQUIN, and the fact that since May/June 2010 they guarantee their products to be free of the aforementioned preservative, I still have one question: Considering the expiry date, ¿When was the product manufactured?
    Thanks for your kind answer.
    Max Moller

  • Great site. I am a small hobby breeder of rough collies in R.I. McTavish,Fergie and Katy live in our home with us. I raised them on totw Bison, but this year Fergie had morniing sickness and I had to switch to the Pacific Salmon. They love it, but am concerned about mercury. The breeder in Minn. that I got my male from is trying to get me to switch to “Life’s Abundance”-that it is better. Opinions please. Thanks,Linda

  • Hi David… We understand the difference in these 2 methods. So, we make it a point to ask the retailers if they purchase ethoxyquin laced fish. You should see my fidning on most any review on this website,

  • David


    Hi Mike-

    Well, I just called Canidae 800-398-1600, and they pointed me to their list “All natural Ingredients” tab where it says “All CANIDAE and FELIDAE dry goods, cans and biscuits are naturally preserved”.

    What she then said really surprised me. She said that there are currently companies that list that they use all natural preservatives, even though the fish that the company purchased for their products was preserved with Ethoxyquin! The government allows them to still say their products are naturally preserved (because the company did not *add* the Ethoxyquin as a preservative)!

    Wow. I now wonder if Wellness does buy fish with Ethoxyquin in it?

    Anyway, the rep at Canidae assured me that all Canidae foods do NOT have any Ethoxyquin in their fish or any of their other ingredients.

  • David

    Hi Mike-
    I can NOT say enough thanks for the service this site provides!!! THANKS!!!

    I just called Wellness 1-800-225-0904 and they told me that their wellness brand (not their other products) list in all dog foods (click on ingredients on any product) that “This is a naturally preserved product” They said since Ethoxyquin is NOT a natural preservative, it is NOT used for any of their wellness line of dog food. I currently have a call into Solid Gold, and hope they respond with good news. I’m not endorsing any product, I’m just trying to find a healthy ones at reasonable prices! Hope this helps!

    Best wishes!

  • michelle

    @Sean-RE: Orijen: Reading Orijen’s website that you link to…you missed the majority of what’s actually written. Ethoxyquin-free.
    “Champion’s ingredients and foods are never preserved with Ethoxyquin or any other chemical preservative.”
    “Champion uses two kinds of fish ingredients in – fresh fish, and fish meals.”
    “Our fresh fish never contain Ethoxyquin.”
    “Our fish meals are never preserved with Ethoxyquin.”

  • Hi Ava… Because of our respect for a dog’s natural carnivorous bias, we’re not known to be fans of vegetarian dog foods. However, a search of our tags will provide a list of all the brands on our website that include at least one vegetarian dog food in their product line. Hope this helps.

  • Ava

    Hi! I just wanted to comment on the site, and this is as good a place as any.

    I think this resource is great. Absolutely great.

    I’ve had my first dog, a female dachshund/chihuahua mix, for nearly three years. I love her like one of my children, and was researching potential new food when I found this site. When we first got Noelle, she had some skin problems. Our family is vegetarian, so one night I gave the dog a piece of uncooked tofu. She loved it. I decided to try a vegetarian food for her. Her skin cleared up, her mood improved and everything, but the company (Avoderm, I believe) stopped making it. Now the only other dry vegetarian food I can find doesn’t seem to do it for her. She just sort of…picks at it, like a spoiled kid. I know there are differing opinions on the subject, but is there a good vegetarian solution recommended?

  • Hi Jerry… I agree. That statement is a bit ambiguous. However, according to Blue’s customer service rep, all fish meals used in the company’s products are sourced from ethoxyquin-free fish. Hope this helps.

  • Jerry

    Mike- From the Blue Buffalo Website:

    What’s Not In BLUE and Why
    Artificial Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives
    Preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol provide no nutritional value and have been associated with possible toxic side effects. Some pet food brands resort to artificial colors and flavors in an attempt to make food look and taste better. We don’t.”

    Is this statement too ambigous to assume that this company and their supplier of fish meal doesn’t use ethoxyquin? I wanted to start diet rotation and had their small breed Fish and Brown Rice recipe in line to try next…the first listed ingredients are “Whitefish, Whole Ground Barley, Oatmeal, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal (natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Whole Ground Brown Rice, Canola Oil (naturally preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)”. Their fish meal is listed 5th, if ethoxyquin is present will the ingredient positioning have a high enough ppm reading to be a cause of concern? Thanks in advance!

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  • Sean

    Just an FYI-

    Champion Pet foods, makers of Orijen and Acana, no longer guarantee’s their food is ethoxyquin-free… so they are kind of going backward.

    From their FAQ page

    “Champion’s Ethoxyquin standard is set at true trace level, not to exceed 5 ppm (parts per million) of Ethoxyquin, which is 0.0005%, or one half of one thousandth of 1% – the lower limit of what most certified laboratories are able to detect or measure”

    Definitely not worth the cost anymore… guess I’ll switch to TOTW and save some money in the process.

  • Hi William… I try to address the ethoxyquin issue in nearly every food I review. However, we only select a “typical” dog food from each product line. So, it’s possible some can fly beneath our software’s radar. Not sure when I’ll be able to create that list. Still trying to keep up with the nearly daily changes in recipes and continuing to work away at our To Do list of new foods.

    Unfortunately, we never know the exact amount of ethoxyquin in any product. We can only guess. With only rare exceptions, ethoxyquin is only found in fish meals. And the amount cannot (by U.S. law) exceed 75 parts per million. And the further down the ingredients list you find a “suspect” fish meal, the lower the likely amount of ethoxyquin present.

    Good news… thanks to the public’s growing objection to and awareness of ethoxyquin, most better manufacturers are rapidly switching over to ethoxyquin-free fish meals. In general, most of our 4 and 5-star foods (with only a few exceptions).

    Suggestion… read our reviews before buying and avoid the lower-rated dog foods. Just doing this will greatly decrease your risk of feeding your dog this controversial preservative. Hope this helps.

  • William

    Hi Mike,

    I’m happy to read here that you are planning to host a list of ethoxyquin free dogfood brands. Any estimates on when the preliminary list may be compiled and posted? I’m not trying to push at all, I only just now found this site, so I want to make sure I keep an eye on it regarding ethoxyquin.

    Along similar lines, any possibility of a list of dogfoods which contain the highest amounts of ethoxyquin? Basically a “Brands To Avoid At All Costs” type of list for those of us who are concerned.

    Thanks so much!

  • Hi Sandy… Yes, you’re correct. But ethoxyquin is added at the time fish are transported for production into fish meals. We never accept these statements regarding any fish meal product unless a company specifically assures consumers they do not use fish meals unless they are ethoxyquin free.


    The Wellness website states they only use natural preservatives, mixed tocopherols, vit C & E

  • Hi Roger… We’ve also not been able to find assurances on the Wellness website their fish meals are ethoxyquin free. And when we don’t find any written confirmation, we always assume the fish meal is not free of the chemical. In any case, you may want to contact Wellness Customer Service to find out.

  • Roger

    Not sure if this has been addressed but what people tend to overlook is that a dog food company may not use ethoxyquin at all in formulating their product but what if their supplier/provider did add it along the way before it made it to their factory? This is the scary part.

    BTW, I am interested in the Wellness Super5mix large breed dry formula but I can not locate on their website that their “deboned whitefish” is ethoxyquin free or that their supplier provides an ethoxyquin free fish product. Does any know? Thanks.

  • Karen W.

    TOTWild, Sierra Mountain dog, Wetlands dog, and Rocky Mountain Cat are all Vitamin E preseved with tocopherols which I believe is Rosemary. My brother says this is a very beneficial antioxidant. He is an herbalist.
    The other TOTWild flavors are not yet changed. But TOTWild did say 1} their food is not made in Diamond plants and 2} they also said in May of 2010 they they would be changing any ethoxiquin to this Vitamin E presevative in June 10, 2010. Some of their foods have been changed. After all it is a mass manufacturer. Give them time. I think they are listening. Buy the ones with this beneficial E presevative.
    I have used it for a month and the probiotics in the food are astounding. I discovered 2 of my 4 Pomerans have Candida. Wow never knew dogs got that. How did we find out. The vet said they are going through Candida die-off. This was because they spent 4 years bathing, cellularly, speaking in yeasts, BHA, corn, by-product, and sugars of KibllesNBits. The itching has almost stopped. So have a lot of other horrendous things. Good luck.
    Remember find the flavors without ethoxyquin and keep looking at their progress. TOTWild is LISTENING to you. Keep barking…but do it kindly. If you want to atract bees you have to use honey. Just keep sending tons of polite emails asking how are they progressing. Doc Brookshire is very kind and if you ask her she will tell you where all their ingredients come from. I took the time to look them all up. I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found. She is very sincere. You’ll get nothing but flies with manure. Another thought.
    Ever tried to return Science Diet or Iams because your animals won’t eat it? Does it not say you can? Dream on! Been there done that. TOTWild will. In two cases I know of they actually sent UPS to the front door to pick it up, NO CHARGE.
    I think they have charcter. Why? Who do you think was the first company to issue the recall and nationwide warning. It certainly was NOT Purina! Just think, if they had not said anything how many Companies were just going to sit back and let the dough roll in? THEY exposed the WHOLE network. Keep that in mind before you keep thumping on Diamond. When they can finally correct all their foods they will.
    If you let a company know you are depending on their good character, you will find they will stumble all over themselves to meet that standard every time. Be kind to yourselves all and always keep the watchmen on the wall.

  • Hi Melissa… Of course, each dog food recipe varies in its design (sometimes significantly and many times only subtly). Since dogs are a lot like us humans, each responds to a particular food (or ingredient) in its own unique way. So, it would be impossible for me (or anyone) to compare two or more dog foods and choose the one that would be better for your dog than the others (or to provide a specific result you’re looking for).

    Since the products you mention here have been awarded favorable ratings, I don’t see how you could go wrong with your choice. Unfortunately, selecting the right dog food still involves at least some trial and error. Hope this helps.

  • melissa

    Is Acana a better food than TOTW Pacifica? I have a 3 year old pit bull with allergies and want to feed her the best. Not to mention, she weighs 74 and the vet said she needed to lose weight. Which would you feed your dog?

  • Hi Paula… Nature’s Domain is made by Diamond Pet and since May 2010, all their products are 100% ethoxyquin free.

  • paula

    Hi All,

    Any comment on the Nature’s Domain Turkey formulation? This should be fish meal free, hence also free from any unclaimed EQ levels. Also, it is $27/35lbs.. very reasonably priced.

    Thank you! Paula

  • Karen

    My Shepherd and Lab have been on chick soup adult since pups and are now 6yr. up until the age of 4 it was working great for them but now they seem to have stomach issues both having enlarged spleems. is this just coincendence I thought, but my 2yr old pappion started with the chfts for a year now and is having problems too. There is definatly somthing wrong with this dog food. Has anyone out there have any of these problems too. I just want whats best for my guys………..thanks

  • Michelle

    Hi Mike-I would just like to thank you for your website,it is very informative.I rotate foods between Merrick,Fromm,and TOTW.I too am very happy to find out that they are now using natural preservatives.Thanks again!!! Michelle

  • Beth

    Just wanted to tell you what a great wealth of info you are supplying.I will only feed orijen and homemade diet combo,I understand alot of people think it’s an expensive food to feed(I am feeding 5 dogs)but it is worth every penny .I work with dogs and all the dogs that are now eating orijen are the healthiest I see.I understand there are other good foods out there but by far I have seen this food do amazing things for some very unhealthy looking animals.So my advice would be for anyone who is afraid of the higher price to cut back on something you may not really need , like those cups of coffee alot of people stop and get. Your peace of mind is worth it.

  • Hi Nic… For years, the US Coast Guard has required the use of a preservative while specific fish materials are transported by boat. This is due to the explosive nature of the stored fish product itself (which can seriously endanger the lives of the boat’s crew).

    However, newer regulations no longer mandate that preservative to be ethoxyquin. So, some companies are now using natural preservatives to control the explosive nature of the material.

    Dog food manufacturers must pay a higher cost to obtain these naturally preserved meals. I know it sounds “fishy” (sorry for the pun) but companies (like Diamond) should be recognized in a positive way for using these better ingredients.

    Hope this helps explain this issue a little better.

  • Nic

    Actually, the last paragraph of the letter has me concerned. I’m not sure what jurisdiction “homeland security” would have here, but it concerns me if any governmental agency has set guidelines requiring that ethoxyquin be used as the preservative in fish meal. Is the government actually requiring the use of a toxic preservative when there is apparently a less harmful alternative readily available? If true, this urgently needs to be addressed before it results in a nationwide pet-food crisis.

    If the supplier was only able to use the alternate preservative due to a special request permit, such a permit could be rejected in the future. I highly doubt that Diamond will send out a press release if the situation reverses. Also, that would mean that other suppliers would also be facing the same governmental guideline regarding ethoxyquin. I wonder how many are even telling the pet food companies they supply about this? Either this needs to be fought at the governmental level, or something in Diamond’s explanation sounds fishy.

  • Hi Lacy… First, I am not aware of TOTW using anything but bison. But if you’d like to confirm that fact, you may want to call Diamond Pet Customer Service number at 800-442-0402. They’re very helpful whenever I have questions.

    Regarding ethoxyquin, here’s a copy of a letter I received from Dr. Janet Rettenmaier (one of the staff veterinarians at Diamond) on July 17, 2010:

    We are now using naturally preserved fish mean in all of our products. Even prior to the transition to natural mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), there were absolutely no health risks involved with feeding any of these foods. The switch to mixed tocopherols to preserve our fish meal was a response to customer demand. Fortunately, we were able to secure a supply of naturally preserved fish meal and shelf life studies have proven that we are able to maintain the product’s freshness throughout the shelf life of the product.

    Homeland security does outline preservation using ethoxyquin, however alternative methods of preservation are available by special request. Our supplier has obtained all the required permits in order to use the natural preservative instead of ethoxyquin.

    Janet L. Rettenmaier, DVM, MS
    Director of Veterinary Services
    Diamond Pet Foods

    Hope this helps. I find this letter very reassuring.

  • Lacy

    Hi guys…just wanted to let you know I called the Diamond customer number (found it on the TOTW thread) and the rep informed me that yes they are using ethoxyquin-free fish meal. 🙂 I forgot to ask for something in writing when i called the first time, so I called a second time and the 2nd rep gave me information in greater detail. She said that Taste of the Wild has never directly preserved their ingredients (incl fish meal) with EQ, but at one time their fish meal supplier may have used EQ–she said the former supplier wasnt particularly forthcoming/transparent about that. She says now the fish meal is from a supplier who preserves with Natrox (sp?), which is a blend of mixed tocopherols (natural preservative). She said there has been a lot of media attention about ethoxyquin, so that is why they made the switch. They did not give me a vague answer at all, didn’t try to twist words or spin it, they were extremely helpful. When I requested something in writing, the rep gladly sent me to the voice mail of the veterinarian who handles such requests. I left a message with her, as she was gone for the day. Also, I asked the first rep about the bison. She informed me that it is American Bison, they get it from Montana and Wyoming.

    Bottom line, this makes me very happy, and i feel much more confident about continuing to feed TOTW to my precious babies 🙂

  • Lacy

    Hello Mike,

    Thanks so much for the work you’ve put into this website. Question for you: You mentioned that Diamond has announced as of May 2010, they are using EQ-free fish meal. This is not the first time i encountered that information, and it was a relief because I feed Taste of the Wild and have been very anxious and wanting to switch since realizing the fish meal-EQ connection. But above, Debbie says that she could not get a definite answer from TOTW regarding EQ, and her post is dated June 2010. It is also not the first time i’ve read that TOTW will not guarantee EQ free to consumers. Debbie, if you’re still reading, do you remember what month of this year you spoke with TOTW? I’ve become so neurotic about this….I honestly would love to stick with TOTW, my girls do great on it and I really cant afford anything more expensive, but I’m unwilling to slowly poison them, so i gotta figure this out! I also work at a premium pet food retailer and want to be able to feel confident recommending TOTW to customers.
    Side Note: Mike, do you know anything about the bison in TOTW’s High Prairie actually being water buffalo from China? Kind of a strange question, I know, but there was some recent discussion at work about it, and I walked away very confused….

    Thanks Again! 🙂

  • Hi Marina… If a company guarantees its ingredients (fish meals) to be ethoxyquin free, then they probably are. Hope this helps.

  • Marina

    After reading all this, I examined a can of Wellness Core, Salmon, Whitefish & Herring that I have been feeding to help supplement Omega-3’s for my dogs. I see that after the first four fish ingredients, comes salmon broth and then salmon meal. Which should I believe: Wellness’ guarantee to Debbie (above) of EQ free foods, or if there is salmon meal that there will be EQ in it?
    BTW, thank you for all your dog food research and for providing this resource to the rest of us out in the dog food wilderness.

  • Hi Tami… Thanks to pressure applied to dog food companies by consumers and the marketplace, there are now many ethoxyquin-free dog foods. Yes, you’re right… Orijen and Acana are two of them. And there are others. Just recently (May 2010), Diamond Pet Foods (makers of Taste of the Wild, Premium Edge, Kirkland, 4Health and other quality foods) announced they now use ethoxyquin-free fish meals in all their products.

    We are planning to post an ethoxyquin-free list sometime this Fall. Thanks for your suggestion.

  • Tami Sanders

    Hi Mike,
    You said. “Many manufacturers use ethoxyquin-free fish meals, too.” Would love to know who those manufacturerers are. I know Orijen is one of them.

  • Martha Jones

    Hi Mike, I wanted you to know that I have spent a lot of time on this website and REALLY appreciate all the hard work you have done! I can’t imagine how many hours you have spent compiling all of this info and all of your own money used to call the companies and test the foods. I love animals and it scares me when I think of how ignorant I was before the big dog food recall. It was a wake up call to a lot of people and please let me extend my sympathy to you and your wife for being one of the many people affected by it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this. I know it was because of Penny and I think that you have saved many pets from a terrible fate.

  • Debbie

    Hi, Just wanted to add in on this conversation that when my dog came up with cancer in 09 I began researching foods for my own info as well. Since fish oil, fish based food and anything fish was recommended fof her, I too was concerned about the EQ problems. I have called alot of food companies and found some could not claim EQ free, TOW would not comment, but Wellness (which is owned by same makers of Eagle Pack) and Blue Buffalo guaranteed EQ free and Wellness offered to send me their guarantee in writing. Wellness was the only one who guaranteed EQ free from both the supplier and from them, the manufacturer. Now how good these guarantees are is for each to decide I guess, but I just wanted to pass along the info I had found this year.

  • Irma Shanahan

    Thanks, for the reply, Mike. I appreciate the information.

  • Hi Irma… ethoxyquin is usually only associated with fish MEALS… not (normally) with plain fish ingredients by themselves. Many manufacturers use ethoxyquin-free fish meals, too. When I can easily locate the information, I usually try to say so in my reviews.

    Yes… as I mentioned, most fish meals DO contain ethoxyquin… and the amount is directly related to how far down the ingredients list you find the fish meal. Most of the time when the fish meal is down the list a ways, there’s only a trace… a few parts per million. That doesn’t make the food safe… but it does make it safer.

    There are plenty of trace contaminants in the people foods we eat… as well as the air we breathe, too. And none of us are particularly happy about that fact. But… as always, the lower the concentration of any contaminant, the better.

  • Irma Shanahan

    Mike, what happens with the ethoxyquin when the dog food is a fish based blend? One of my poodles had a definite preference for the fish blends, and loves the TOW Pacific as well as the Evo Herring and Salmon made by Natura.

    If I’m reading this discussion properly, I’m increasing the amount of ethoxyquin my poodle takes in with just about any fish based formula, regardless of manufacturer.

    And I also want to thank you for the work you’ve done on this.

  • Hi Sara… when I say that by law ethoxyquin cannot exceed 75 ppm I am referring to the fish ingredients only. If that particular ingredient makes up 5% of the food, then assuming ethoxyquin content of the fish meal is at its legal limit of 75 ppm… then there’s probably only a trace (5% x 75 ppm = 3.75 ppm) of ethoxyquin in the food.

    I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this. And I don’t know of any dog food manufacturer that adds ethoxyquin directly to a food. So far, I’ve only seen it added to fish meals before they are sold to pet food manufacturers.

    Diamond makes some very good dog foods… and many contain fish meal. In most cases, that fish meal probably contains ethoxyquin.

    Natura may have sold out to Proctor and Gamble… but so far, no changes. I’d wait and see what happens with Natura… and react only IF they change their quality… or recies. Right now, Natura brands still look like some of the best available.

    Hopefully, that won’t change.

  • Sara

    Hmmm you say:
    “If the FDA limits ethoxyquin (EQ) content to 75 ppm in a finished product… then it stands to reason that the most dangerous situation would be applying that same limit on direct addition to a specific dog food as a preservative.”

    That does not easy our worry at all. The FDA approves all kinds of junk and in levels that are still harmful.

    Since Brookshire from Diamond Pet did not forward the results, it logically leads us to believe that they are either hiding the results or they actually didn’t do the tests.

    Btw, Natura Pet Foods (makers of Innova Evo) have sold out to P&G, the makers of Iams and Eukanuba… there’s another reason to stay away from Evo now.

  • Hi Linda… that’s a very good question. I’d like to think the FDA has some real scientific reason for setting this standard… and not just because they believe dogs aren’t as important as humans. Many of us love our dogs as much as we cherish the members of our own human families.

  • Linda Woodard


    I appreciate your comments about EQ. I was wondering if you knew why the FDA limits EQ to (5 to .5 ppm) in human food but for animal food it is 75 ppm?

  • Kevin Bradley

    thanks Mike. I appreciate the work you did on this….it’s tough….we’re reading things from companies that killed a bunch of our beloved pets a few years ago. Credibility?…you know what I mean. I read your touching story.

    We pay a significant incremental difference in Orijen or Evo vs. anything made in a Diamond plant. This got me to thinking….is it because Natura and Champion are simply rolling in cash, laughing all the way to the bank? I really don’t think so. It COSTS MORE to do it THEIR way. What you have to discern as a Dog Owner is whether THEIR way makes any difference. And be prepared that IF anything bad ever happens to one of your pets….to second guess yourself. I can’t live with that. I just can’t.

  • Thanks for giving use a place to help our dogs and friends !!

  • Hi Kevin… Thanks to your recent comments, I’ve re-written much of this post in an attempt to clarify the way we deal with ethoxyquin in our ratings. After reviewing my earlier version, I can see where it would cause so much confusion. And for that, I apologize.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find anything definitive regarding just how much ethoxyquin is safe and/or how much is really in a finished dog food. I spoke with Dr. Brookshire today at Diamond Pet and I found her very helpful. But she was still unable to forward the results of any tests that confirmed her claims that ethoxyquin content is reduced to only 2 ppm.

    However, in her defense, I believe it’s all a matter of simple math. If the FDA limits ethoxyquin (EQ) content to 75 ppm in a finished product… then it stands to reason that the most dangerous situation would be applying that same limit on direct addition to a specific dog food as a preservative.

    On the other hand, as I understand it, fish meals are also limited to the same 75 ppm when they sell the ingredient to the dog food manufacturers. That would mean a single ingredient would contribute dramatically less EQ to the overall product than with direct addition by the manufacturer.

    Also, think about how very insignificant a contributor to EQ levels a fish meal would be when it is listed as ingredient number ten (as it is in 4Health Dog Food). What if that fish meal ingredient represented 3% of the pre-cooking weight of the entire product. That dog food would then be 97% fish meal-free! Assuming (a maximum reading) of 75 ppm, the fish meal would contribute only the very tiniest amount (2-3 ppm) of EQ to the overall dog food.

    Hey… I’m not endorsing the use of EQ. No, definitely not. But I am trying to allay some of the hysteria about the chemical. Fish meal is an extremely common dog food ingredient… even in many decent quality dog foods.

    By the way, who’s to say 4Health wouldn’t really be more accurate at three stars? But based on the big picture, we still feel four stars is appropriate. Sometimes, these foods are simply on the “borderline”.

    Thanks for calling this EQ rating confusion to my attention. Hope this helps.

  • Kevin Bradley


    I’d love to hear what you find…I’ve yet to find a company that doesn’t “claim” that the stuff is destroyed in the heat process…or that the amount in their food is such a trace amount that it would NEVER affect your Dog. Indeed, they all say this.

    I would never know for certain if they are right…gads!…could you imagine the size study you would have to conduct to determine conclusively that they are correct? You would have to have the resources of a sizable University.

    Heck, I’M Tempted by the Diamond brand foods. I don’t enjoy shelling out $2/lb. for Innova, Orijen or Evo…and now that this 4Health Brand has come out…I’m tempted again. But I just can’t do it. We are never going to get an absolute answer from anything made in a Diamond facility that we are safe completely from Ethoxyquin.

    You know what I WISH they might consider? Just keep all the Fish Meal OUT of some select formula’s. Fine, you cannot guarantee NO Ethoxyquin?….ok, give us the option of no Fish Meal. Increase the Chicken, do whatever you need to do. Keep the darn Fish out.

    Just my opinion.

    thanks again for the site.

  • Hi Kevin and Bonny… I’ve been reading (with interest) all your comments regarding ethoxyquin. And I can understand the confusion. I believe there is a significant difference between ethoxyquin used in fish meals vs ethoxyquin being added directly to a final dog food product as a preservative. I’m in the process of collecting critical information regarding this important issue and I promise to report back to you (here) with my findings… very soon. How do you guys feel about ethoxyquin if two dog foods contained major differences in the chemical’s composition? By the way, thanks for this interesting discussion.

  • Kevin Bradley


    Exactly what I was trying to say….Again, I say this with all due respect to Mike. I really like what he’s done here. But he seems to take a very hard stance on Ethoxyquin. Diamond knowingly uses the stuff…how can ANYTHING they make receive 4 and 5 stars.

    I’ll shut up and wait for Mike to respond.

  • Bonny

    Here’s a quote froum your site: “There’s one dog food ingredient you definitely want to stay away from… a fat preservative known as ethoxyquin.”

    How can you rate TOTW five stars and enthusiastically recommend it, when you are also saying to stay away from ethoxyquin? TOTW does contain ethoxyquin. I’m honestly curious, because my pups were doing great on TOTW’s Pacific Stream, and I hated to change their food, but with all the cautions out about ethoxyquin I felt changing was best for them.

  • Kevin Bradley

    Confused on your Ethoxyquin stance…I stumbled onto your site today and I do like what you’ve done…but this confuses me. You’ve got numerous foods made in the Diamond plants, and we know they don’t take a hard stance on Ethoxyquin.

    How can they have such highly rated foods and yet this article says to stay clear ? I’m confused.